A modern workplace cannot be imagined without new tech — a fact that has gotten a whole new meaning in recent years.
Technological advancements are massive; rather than making a positive impact, they are pressing businesses to adapt fast to rather unpredictable trends.
The good news is that businesses with a solid development strategy can focus on essential tech that can help them streamline processes and optimize workflows.
What the rapid development of AI will spell remains to be seen, but we already know that chatbots are becoming a staple tool.
Naturally, processes may be changing, but the essence of core business protocols is still going strong. The importance of stellar project management, team management and communication isn't going anywhere, and new tech can help with them in various ways.
Why Tech Is Crucial for Small Businesses
Embracing new tech isn't a one-time occurrence. Rather, it's a journey with unforeseeable impact, which is why innovation is crucial.
On top of picking the right tools, small businesses also need to integrate them with existing tools and train employees to use them seamlessly.
Technology empowers small businesses to streamline operations, which by extension reduces costs and enhances customer experience.
On the matter of customers, they've been literally spoiled by technology. Online shopping and instant communication are nowadays necessary, or else customers will turn to competition.
Hardware and Infrastructure
Solid hardware infrastructure is the very prerequisite. Small businesses have tighter budgets than big corporations, so they need to strategize to come up with the best combination of servers, computers, laptops, mobile devices, VPNs and cloud computing solutions.
In addition, there are high-speed broadband options to consider. Investments in networking equipment may be in order, too. It goes without saying that data protection is paramount as well.
Must-Have Productivity Software
Productivity software is a game-changer for small businesses. Tools that enhance communication, streamline tasks, and improve document management are unavoidable.
The focus should be on real-time collaboration and stellar file sharing. Typical choices for small businesses include:
- Office suites (Microsoft Office 365, Google Workspace, and similar)
- Project management software (Asana, Trello, and similar)
- Communication and collaboration tools (Slack, Microsoft Teams, and similar)
- Cloud storage and file-sharing (Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, and similar)
- Time- and task management (Toggl, Todoist, RescueTime, and similar)
- Note-taking apps (Evernote, Notion, and similar)
- Password managers (LastPass, 1Password, and similar)
- Document signing and management (DocuSign, Adobe Sign, and similar)
- Email management: (SaneBox, Clean Email, and similar)
- Automation tools for repetitive tasks (Zapier, Integromat, and similar)
Collaboration Tech to Uphold Remote Work
Remote and hybrid work is becoming a standard, so it's critical to brainstorm effective collaboration strategies across teams.
In addition to productivity software solutions mentioned above, small businesses should also consider online onboarding, communication and video conferencing tools.
Some ideas to consider that won't break the bank include Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Workspace (formerly G Suite), Basecamp, and a small business scheduling app of your choice, in addition to the abovementioned apps.
Effective customer relationship management (CRM) can make or break a small business. CRM systems like Salesforce, HubSpot, and Zoho can help significantly with customer interactions, track leads, and overall communication.
They personalize communication and help businesses to tailor their marketing campaigns based on customer preferences and behavior.
However, CRM systems can be rather expensive, so it is crucial to evaluate the exact needs, budget, and scalability. Some CRM systems target specific industries, whereas others are highly customizable.
eCommerce Solutions for Small Businesses
The digital marketplace is a vast chasm where small businesses can find many a gap to target. As mentioned above, online sales are trending, so setting up an online store that stands out is typically the best of choices.
Thankfully, there are already multiple tech solutions that may help everyone- Typical choices include Shopify, WooCommerce, and BigCommerce, but there are other gems out there to discover as well.
Look for platforms that feature a user-friendly interface, secure payment processing, and customizable design.
Building a successful online store means joining the dots impeccably. Small businesses should look for the right eCommerce platform, proven payment gateways, and cybersecurity. Regular security audits are imperative as data leaks could prove disastrous.
Cybersecurity Best Practices
Implementing proven cybersecurity solutions is essential for protecting sensitive business data. The three first steps to undertake are:
- Securing your network with firewalls
- Picking the best encryption protocols
- Performing regular software updates
It is critical to educate your workforce on the matter of phishing and data security. For remote teams, using a VPN is a good idea. Finally, data backups should be performed regularly, no exceptions.
Cybersecurity isn't just a nice way to show customers your business is reliable. Data privacy regulations — such as GDPR and CCPA — actually require companies to handle customer data responsibly. In other words, businesses need to obtain explicit consent for data collection and secure transparent privacy policies. Customers should be allowed to request their data be removed.
As for the rest, it basically comes down to social media and cross-promotions, so dive into marketing strategies to discover which tools are trending. For starters, ensuring the abovementioned software solutions should suffice.